HOME Theatre, Manchester; Thursday 28th November, 2019
Chanje Kunda has had enough: she’s been inquisitively scrolling through all the usual social media feeds and it’s basically just a joke. Everyone seems to be banging on about how they’re living their best lives: e.g. teaching orphaned panda bears how to read English as a foreign language on a tropical beach and all that; it seems that everything these days needs to be liked, shared or commented upon.
But Chanje says she is a skint, sexless, single mother and therefore she’s not having it – none of that digital peacocking on Facebook applies to her in any way, she lives in the real world and needs to just get on with it.
Plant Fetish is a one-woman show with a radical suggestion: put down the mobile phone and start engaging with the potted plants instead. The show is effectively an evening with Chanje, a one-hour-long monologue through which she shares her thoughts, her concerns and her intriguing observations.
There seem to be two main reasons for Chanje’s rejection of all aspirational conventions dictated by social media. Her love-life is a fruitless stream of failed Tinder dates. Each seems to start with enough signs to suggest that he’s The One; but they all soon fizzle out to nothing at all, and often for no particularly meaningful reason, just a big old digital WHATEVER.
Secondly, and more potently, there is her stumbling and hesitant journey through numerous therapeutic treatments for complex PTSD. The root cause of her condition is never revealed, in fact, one of the finest moments of the show comes when Chanje finally begins to touch upon the subject – only to then issue a sharply-worded rejection of the audience’s over-eager intrusions into private matters.
The key outcome portrayed by Plant Fetish seems to be that Chanje just doesn’t give a shit anymore. So much so, in fact, that she talks genuinely and earnestly of embracing a life of herbisexuality – she’s going to marry a plant because, in her own words: “plants don’t talk back, they are strong and tall, they do great things for the planet, and they are renowned for their wood.”
On stage it appears that her chosen direction in life is exerting a powerful influence on her identity. The set is a simple one, a living room with a nice sofa and a nice side table for her bottle of wine – but everywhere there are plants: big plants, small plants, flowery plants, leafy plants, stalky plants, some plain plants, some very colourful plants.
There is no mobile phone to be seen, just plants. They seem to be her new friends, but could they also potentially be her lovers? Apparently some women in Mexico got so fed up with men that they decided to start marrying trees, could this be the way forward for Chanje?
Plant Fetish is a dense thicket of amusing content which is well delivered with charm and elegance, though the performance seems to struggle slightly towards the end due to the very static nature of the visual and auditory presentations.
What Chanje describes may not be a plant fetish, it’s possibly more of a plant hypothesis: this is one woman’s story of dealing with her complex PTSD, her anxiety and her emotional issues. As such it goes a long way to rationalising her radical proposal to embrace herbisexuality.
It might not be a bad suggestion, if you’ve had enough of striving to compete with everything that you see on your mobile phone, why not consider the lusty joys of PHOTOsynthesis, instead of the aspirational fallacies of PHOTOgraphs?
Photography: Silk Photography